Evangelical Church of Westphalia

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Logo of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia
Map of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia
Basic data
Surface: 20,168 km²
Confession: Uniert
Leading clergy: President Annette Kurschus
Membership: UEK
Church districts : 27
Parishes : 490 (November 1, 2019)
Parishioners: 2,198,111 (December 31, 2018)
Share of the
total population:
27.8% (December 31, 2018)
Official Website: www.evangelisch-in-westfalen.de

The Evangelical Church of Westphalia ( EKvW ) is one of 20 member churches ( regional churches ) of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). Like all regional churches, it is a corporation under public law . It is based in Bielefeld . The Evangelical Church of Westphalia has about 2.2 million members of the community (as of December 2018) in 490  parishes and 27  church districts , which are grouped into 11 design rooms. It maintains 873 churches and chapels. The Evangelical Church of Westphalia is one of the united churches within the EKD. The church is also a member of the Union of Evangelical Churches and a member of the Community of Evangelical Churches in Europe .

The regional church maintains an Evangelical Academy based in Haus Villigst in Schwerte and a college for church music in Herford .


The area essentially comprises the former Prussian province of Westphalia, which existed until 1946 . After the state of Prussia was dissolved after the Second World War , the area became part of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia and today includes the state part of Westphalia , i.e. the administrative districts of Arnsberg , Detmold (without the district of Lippe ) and Münster . There are minor deviations in the area of ​​the regional church from that of the former province of Westphalia; For example, the Lower Saxony border towns of Stemshorn and Büscherheide belong to it, while the Westphalian town of Hallenberg , on the border with Hesse, belongs to the parish of Bromskirchen in the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau . The Rhineland-Palatinate communities of Mudersbach and Brachbach belong to the Westphalian parish of Niederschelden in the parish of Siegen. The district of Lippe essentially comprises the area of ​​the former state of Lippe and - apart from a few exceptions, such as the city of Lügde , a Westphalian exclave - does not belong to the Westphalian church, but to the independent Lippe regional church . The Frille district of the city of Petershagen, originally divided into two parts between Westphalia and the county of Schaumburg-Lippe , belongs entirely to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Schaumburg-Lippe.


Before 1800, the area of ​​today's Evangelical Church of Westphalia consisted of a large number of independent territories, which changed their borders several times in the course of history and in some cases introduced the Reformation very early on. The electorate of Cologne (with the Duchy of Westphalia and Vest Recklinghausen ), the principal dioceses of Münster , Paderborn and Minden , the County of Mark (Reformation from 1524), the County of Ravensberg (Reformation from 1541) and the County of Nassau had the largest share of the area . Wins . The ecclesiastical territories remained Catholic except for Minden in the 16th century, while the Protestant faith was decisive in most of the secular dominions. Here was the Lutheran doctrine prevalent, but there was also reformed areas, especially the winning country, Wittgenstein counties and the county Tecklenburg . Many of the larger cities, such as Minden, Herford, Soest and Dortmund, played a formative role for the introduction of the Reformation.

Mark, Ravensberg and Minden became part of Brandenburg-Prussia in the 17th, Tecklenburg in the 18th century, and Prussia received additional territories after the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss 1803 and (after the period of French rule) after the Congress of Vienna in 1815. After that, Prussia formed its territories in the Westphalian region the province of Westphalia with the capital Münster.

The ecclesiastical administrative structures of the province of Westphalia also emerged during this period. The consistory was established in Münster as the central church administrative authority . Summus episcopus ("supreme bishop") for the Protestant churches in Prussia and thus also in the ecclesiastical province of Westphalia was the Prussian king. In 1817 King Friedrich Wilhelm III. on the occasion of the three hundredth anniversary of the Reformation to a union of the parishes of the Lutheran and Reformed denomination , to common worship and to celebrate the Lord's Supper in a unified form. This appeal was received with great enthusiasm; In numerous places where there were Reformed and Lutheran congregations, these concluded union treaties in the course of the following years and thus united not only in terms of worship but also legally. It should become a characteristic of the Union in Prussia that here (unlike in Nassau and Baden), despite several attempts, it was not possible to formulate a teaching unit of the Lutheran and the Reformed creed; rather, the individual parishes were expressly assured that their status of confession would not be touched or changed by joining the Union. Thus, within the state of Prussia, within the borders of 1815, a uniate Protestant regional church, the “Evangelical Church in Prussia”, changed its name several times until it was effectively transformed into a church association in 1945; most recently, since 1922, it referred to itself as the Evangelical Church of the Old Prussian Union . Before 1921, the Prussian regional church comprised the following church provinces: Brandenburg (with Berlin ), East Prussia , Pomerania , Posen , Rhineland (with Hohenzollern ), Saxony , Silesia , West Prussia and Westphalia . In every ecclesiastical province there was a provincial consistory (in some also two), which was responsible for the administration of the church. In Westphalia this was located in Münster. In 1819 the first Westphalian synod met in Lippstadt; at their head was a praeses. The church administration, however, was incumbent on the consistorial president in Münster, whose function was initially exercised by the high president of the province of Westphalia in "personal union". Only years later was an independent consistorial president appointed.

On March 5, 1835, the Provincial Church together with the Ecclesiastical Province of Rhineland received a church ordinance , which was preceded by three so-called "Confession Paragraphs" in 1855, which described the coexistence and coexistence of the parishes of the Lutheran, Reformed and Uniate Confessions, so that despite the union the individual parishes theirs respective confessional commitment retained. The church leadership and administration was carried out by the same institutions - the consistory in Münster and the superintendents of the "Kreisgemeinden" (church districts). At that time, the offices of general superintendent (spiritual director of the provincial church) and president (chairman of the provincial synod) were created.

In 1850, the Evangelical Upper Church Council (EOK) was established in Berlin as the highest church authority for the Prussian regional church . The provinces that were newly added to Prussia in 1866 retained their own ecclesiastical leadership and administrations and were not incorporated into the Prussian Union Church. After 1874 the church was called the "Evangelical Regional Church of the Older Provinces of Prussia".

After the First World War , with the end of the monarchy, the sovereign church regiment ceased to exist. The Prussian regional church reshaped its governance structures accordingly. The constitutional charter of the "Evangelical Church of the Old Prussian Union" of 1922 provided for the regional church to be headed by the General Synod and Church Senate (which included the General Superintendent and the President of the Evangelical Upper Church Council in Berlin). For the Westphalian provincial church, the provincial synod and the provincial church council have now acquired power - while safeguarding the special rights of the general superintendent, the consistorial president and the president of the provincial synod. A corresponding revision of the Rhenish-Westphalian church order was passed on November 6, 1923; it came into force on December 1, 1924.

In the time of National Socialism , the Westphalian provincial church was one of the few " intact churches " in which the German Christians could not gain decisive influence over the long term. Only for a short time was there a bishop at its head with Bruno Adler from the German Christians based in Münster.

After the Second World War and after the dissolution of the State of Prussia in 1947, the six remaining church provinces of Prussia became independent regional churches. They all joined the "Evangelical Church in Germany" EKD . For the Westphalian provincial church (from June 13, 1945: "Evangelical Church of Westphalia") a new church order was passed on December 1, 1953, which came into force on April 1, 1954. The three previous top offices of the Provincial Church have now been combined in the office of President; The first incumbent of the new style of presidency was Karl Koch , who had been president of the provincial synod from 1927–1934 and - after its dissolution by the German-Christian Church - had presided over the confessional synod from 1934–1945. The consistory was moved from Münster to Bielefeld; the new name chosen was the “regional church office”. For this, a new building was erected on the old town church square in Bielefeld, which was inaugurated on April 26, 1956.

The former Evangelical Church of the Old Prussian Union was transformed by an agreement on the fringes of the church assembly in Treysa on August 31, 1945 into a mere association of member churches, which received a new basic order in 1951 and which, under pressure from the GDR government, was forced to do so in 1953 to delete the term “Old Prussian” from his name and henceforth to operate only as “ Evangelical Church of the Union ” (EKU); this also belonged to the EKD. In 2003 the EKU merged with other regional churches from the Arnoldshain Conference to form the “ Union of Evangelical Churches ” (UEK), whose church chancellery no longer exists in Berlin since 2008, but is located as a church office in Hanover and is directly linked to the EKD.

During the Second World War, trained women theologians had represented pastors drafted for military service, but after 1945 they were again ousted from the pastor's office. As in other regional churches of the EKD, women initially only had the opportunity to take part in the service of preaching to women and children as a “vicar”. From 1964 women could be ordained as "pastors" and hold pastoral positions, but were obliged to be celibate. They achieved full legal equality with their male colleagues in 1974.

In the Evangelical Church of Westphalia, the blessing was allowed in 2013 and same-sex couples were allowed to marry in November 2019 .


At the head of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia is the President , who is elected by the regional synod for eight years. At the age of 65, the President usually retires. The Praeses is the spiritual and legal leader of the church as well as the chairman of the regional synod.

Before 1948 there were three positions in the church leadership: a general superintendent as spiritual director, a president of the consistory as legal director and the praeses as chairman of the synod.

Spiritual leaders of the Evangelical Church in Prussia were therefore general superintendents, of whom there were a total of twelve in all of Prussia. The office of general superintendent was introduced shortly after the Reformation, later dissolved and only reintroduced in 1828. In Westphalia, however, the first general superintendent was only able to take office in 1835 after the church ordinance had been passed.

After the elimination of the sovereign church regiment in 1918, General Superintendent, President of the Consistory and Preses formed the leadership of the Westphalian Provincial Church. After the state of Prussia was dissolved in 1947, the Westphalian Provincial Church became formally independent and the new office of President was introduced, which now combines all three previous offices in one person.

Seal mark of the Westphalian consistory, at that time in Münster (Westf)

Consistorial President

From 1948 the President took over the office of Consistorial President.

1815–1844: Ludwig Freiherr von Vincke , Upper President of the Province of Westphalia
1845–1846: Eduard von Schaper , Upper President of the Province of Westphalia
1846–1850: Eduard Heinrich von Flottwell , Upper President of the Province of Westphalia
1850–1871: Franz von Duesberg , Upper President of the Province of Westphalia (In fact, however, the superintendent general Graeber and Wiesmann carried out the official business.)
1871–1891: Karl Friedrich Hering , Consistorial President
1892–1898: Karl von Westhoven , president of the consistory
1898–1905: Hermann August Wilhelm Stockmann , Consistorial President
1905–1923: Günther von Sydow , consistorial president
1925–1933: Gottfried Bartels , Consistorial President
1936–1948: Kurt Gerhard Thümmel , Consistorial President (1936–1938 provisional)

General superintendent

The office was only created in 1836. From 1948 the President took over the leading spiritual office of the regional church.

1836–1846: Wilhelm Johann Gottfried Ross
1846–1856: Franz Friedrich Graeber
1857–1883: Franz Julius Wiesmann
1883–1905: Johannes Friedrich Ferdinand Gustav Nebe
1905–1930: Christian Heinrich Wilhelm Zoellner
1931–1934 / 1944: Wilhelm Weirich (from 1936 President Karl Koch took over the office of spiritual leadership for the non-German Christian-oriented parishes and pastors and the Münster pastor Walter Fiebig for the German-Christian-oriented pastors and parishes)


1933–1936: Bruno Adler

As head of the German Christians in Westphalia, Bruno Adler was appointed by the Church Senate of the Westphalian Provincial Church to be its first (and only) bishop with the title "Bishop of Munster". As a result of the opposition of the Confessing Church to his administration, he was recalled in 1936 by the provincial church committee.


Until 1934 (1945) the president was chairman of the provincial synod, since 1945 he has not only chaired the regional church, but also the church leadership and the regional church office; at the same time, since then he has also performed the duties of the former office of general superintendent and thus exercises the "pastoral office" in the regional church. In 2012, a woman was elected to this office for the first time.

President Ludwig Polscher (1900)
1834–1835: Jakob von der Kuhlen
1835–1841: Christian Nun
1841–1843: Bernhard Jacobi
1844–1874: Wilhelm Diedrich Albert
1874–1902: Ludwig Polscher
1902–1914: Friedrich König
1914–1927: Heinrich Kockelke
1927–1949: Karl Koch (until 1934 President of the Provincial Synod, 1934–1945 the Confessing Synod, from 1945 the Provincial Synod)
1949–1968: Ernst Wilm
1969–1977: Hans Thimme
1977–1985: Heinrich Reiss
1985–1996: Hans-Martin Linnemann
1996-2004: Manfred Sorg
2004–2012: Alfred Buß
2012– : Annette Kurschus0000

State Synod

As a "parliament", the regional church has a regional synod . Its members, the synodals, are sent by the district synods for four years. The task of the synod is similar to that of political parliaments. The chairman of the synod is the praeses, since 1948 the leading clergyman of the regional church and head of the regional church office (formerly consistory) in Bielefeld.


As a uniate church, the Evangelical Church of Westphalia unites parishes of the Lutheran , Reformed and Uniate confessional status .


Church leadership

Regional church office in Bielefeld

The president presides over the church leadership ("government" of the church), which is elected for eight years and which leads the church on behalf of the regional synod. The official seat of the president and the church leadership is at the seat of the regional church office in Bielefeld. In addition to the President himself, 17 other members belong to the church leadership. Seven members are full-time members of the church leadership (president, vice-presidents, senior church councils as heads of departments), and eleven members work part-time.

Regional Church Office

The president is the chairman of the regional church office. Next to him are the theological vice-president as the representative of the president, Ulf Schlüter since 2018 , and the legal vice-president and finance director, Arne Kupke since 2016 , at the head of the office.

The regional church office is divided into a presidential department, six department groups, to which the departments and units are assigned, and other areas. The authority has around 260 employees.

The regional church office is also used to refer to the college that conducts day-to-day business on behalf of the church leadership. The committee is made up of the two vice-presidents and other department heads, chaired by the President.


The regional church is structured as an organization from the bottom up as follows:

At the base are the parishes as corporations under public law with elected governing bodies, the presbyteries. Whose elected members are called " elders " or "presbyters". The priest of a parish also belongs to the presbytery.

Several parishes together form a church district, which forms the middle level in the three-tier structure of the regional church ( comparable to a district in state administration ) , at the head of which is a superintendent. The church districts are also corporations under public law and have the district synod as governing bodies, whose members are sent by the presbyteries of the associated parishes, as well as the district synodal committee.

The church districts form the regional church ( comparable to the federal state in terms of state administration ) . A further step between the church districts and the regional church, which exists in some other regional churches and which roughly corresponds to the administrative districts of the state administration, does not exist in the Westphalian regional church.

The 27 church districts


The 27 church districts comprise 490 parishes (as of November 1, 2019) . Their number was significantly lower when the regional church was formed. In the course of the following years it temporarily increased to over 620, because v. a. In cities, the parishes became so large due to immigration that they were divided up and new parishes emerged. In recent times the number of parishes has decreased again because the decline in resources (numbers of parishioners, financial means) has made it necessary to merge.

House of regional church services

The regional church services house in Dortmund is a conference center of the Westphalian regional church and the seat of several regional church offices and institutions:

Hymn books

The parishes of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia have been singing or singing in the last few decades mainly from the following hymn books:

  • Evangelical chant book. Published according to the resolutions of the Synods of Jülich, Cleve, Berg and the Grafschaft Mark, Elberfeld in 1834.
  • Christian hymn book for the Protestant communities of the Principality of Minden and the County of Ravensberg. Gütersloh before 1900.
  • Evangelical hymn book for Rhineland and Westphalia. Dortmund 1883.
  • Evangelical hymn book for Rhineland and Westphalia (with the main part "Songs of the German Evangelical Hymnbook according to the resolutions of the German Protestant Church Committee"). Dortmund 1929.
  • Evangelical church hymn book , edition for the regional churches of Rhineland, Westphalia and Lippe. Bielefeld u. a. 1969.
  • Evangelical hymn book , edition for the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland, the Evangelical Church of Westphalia, the Lippische Landeskirche, in community with the Evangelical Reformed Church (Synod of Evangelical Reformed Churches in Bavaria and Northwest Germany), also in use in the Protestant churches in the Grand Duchy Luxembourg. Gütersloh / Bielefeld / Neukirchen-Vluyn 1996.

Exhibition "The Russian-German House"

The resettlement work of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia developed the touring exhibition The Russian-German House . This exhibition stages the history of the Russian Germans in the form of a walk-in house and was on view in more than 70 locations across Germany from 2003 to 2014, including at the German Evangelical Church Congress 2013 in Hamburg. More than 100,000 visitors viewed the exhibition. After the end of its tour through Germany, the traveling exhibition found a permanent virtual presence in the online migration museum Lebenswege .

See also



  • Church regulations for the Protestant communities of the Province of Westphalia and the Rhine Province of March 5, 1835, with the additions, amendments, ordinances etc. applicable to the Rhine Province. Bertelsmann, Gütersloh 1865 ( digital copy ).
  • Church regulations for the Protestant communities in the Province of Westphalia and the Rhine Province of March 5, 1835 . 4th, increased and improved edition. Marcus, Bonn 1878 ( digitized version ).


Web links

Commons : Evangelical Church of Westphalia  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Evangelical Church of Westphalia: Church life as reflected in the numbers - Lots of statistics. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
  2. a b Evangelical Church in Germany - Church membership numbers as of December 31, 2018 , ekd.de, accessed on February 29, 2020.
  3. ^ Wilhelm Heinrich Neuser: Evangelical Church History of Westphalia in the ground plan . Bielefeld 2002, p. 56 ff.
  4. ^ Wilhelm Heinrich Neuser: Evangelical Church History of Westphalia in the ground plan . Bielefeld 2002, p. 66 ff.
  5. ^ Wilhelm Heinrich Neuser: Evangelical Church History of Westphalia in the ground plan . Bielefeld 2002, p. 60 ff.
  6. ^ Wilhelm Heinrich Neuser: Evangelical Church History of Westphalia in the ground plan . Bielefeld 2002, p. 93 ff.
  7. After the First World War, the church provinces Unierte Evangelische Kirche in Polish Upper Silesia (church province from 1923 to 1937), Landessynodalverband der Free Stadt Danzig (1920–1940), Landessynodalverband Memelgebiet (1927–1939), the western parts of the church provinces remaining in Germany From 1921, Posen and West Prussia formed the ecclesiastical province of Posen-West Prussia.
  8. Heidemarie Wünsch: 80 Years of the Westphalian Theologians' Convention: "The unconditional will to network". In: Deutsches Pfarrerblatt 2014 ( PDF file ).
  9. Evangelisch.de: Westphalian Church decides public blessing of homosexual couples
  10. Regional Church of Westphalia: New: marriage also for same-sex married couples and non-denominational spouses, "God's blessing applies to all married couples". 20th November 2019
  11. Evangelisch.de: Westphalian Church equates marriage of gay couples with marriage , November 20, 2019
  12. Kurt Meier : The German Christians. The image of a movement in the church struggle of the Third Reich . Halle (Saale) 1964, p. 27.
  13. Carsten Nicolaisen (edit.): Documents on the church policy of the Third Reich . Vol. 1: The year 1933 . Gütersloher Verlags-Haus, Gütersloh 1971, ISBN 3-459-00629-3 , p. 18.
  14. ^ Reijo Heinonen: Adaptation and Identity. Theology and church politics of the Bremen German Christians 1933–1945 . Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 1978, ISBN 3-525-55704-3 , p. 93.
  15. Church regulations of the EKvW , basic article II.
  16. ^ Website of the regional church
  17. Organization chart on the EKvW website.
  18. Evangelical Church of Westphalia: Church life as reflected in the numbers - Lots of statistics. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
  19. Westfälische Landeskirche gives its office for missionary services a new name , evangelisch-in-westfalen.de, accessed on December 23, 2018.
  20. www.ekd.de, Project of the Month: The Russian-German House ( Memento from January 7, 2017 in the Internet Archive )
  21. ^ Online Migration Museum Paths of Life , virtual permanent exhibition: The Russian-German House

Coordinates: 52 ° 1 ′ 17 ″  N , 8 ° 31 ′ 59 ″  E